'Basic 2' a very bad – and good – film

By Chris Hewitt (St. Paul Pioneer Press )
2006-03-31 16:29
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The dialogue is atrocious, the acting iffy and the story familiar. So why did I have such a swell time at "Basic Instinct 2"?

'Basic 2' a very bad – and good – film

I think it's because the people who made the movie know those things to be true and don't care. "Basic Instinct 2" assumes we saw the first film, in which Sharon Stone's Catherine Tramell either slept with or murdered most of San Francisco, and it uses that information to tease us along, much as Tramell teases her victims/ lovers/dopes.

So we get a scene that mirrors one in the first film, where Catherine's in bed with a man, and she reaches under the bed for ... we never find out. And a scene where that same man walks onto a dance floor where Catherine and another woman are ... we never find out.

The teasing works because Tramell is such an enigmatic character ("You don't believe me when I say I did it. You don't believe me when I say I didn't," she says to her psychologist/lover/dope played by David Morrissey (who could be Liam Neeson's younger, sluttier brother).

Tramell is a sex machine who assigns every word a double, erotic meaning (an actual list from the film: quote, drive, treatment, pothole and, my favorite, research).

And Stone, who never raises her voice above a bedroom purr, plays Catherine like she doesn't give a "research" if anyone thinks she's ridiculous. She knows "Basic Instinct 2" is a comedy, and she is the only one in on the joke.

If you're paying attention, you'll spot the humor, too. The movie begins, for instance, with an insane scene in which Tramell and a trick/target/ dope are going 110 mph on a London road. They're careening toward a river, and the guy is, as Prince once sang, driving Tramell's little red Corvette.

Baby, she is much too fast. Whether she's stalking around her sadomasochistic condo like a leopard, reading excerpts from her grotesquely bad novels, "researching" Morrison or caressing her icepick like the Oscar she has so vigorously campaigned for in the past, Stone makes Tramell magnetic.

Heck, even the way she wears her clothes is fascinating. Her costume designer has given her a series of line-straddling outfits. At one point, one hand is gloved and the other ungloved, and several of her dresses feature one clothed shoulder and one bare.

It's as if the costumer is telling us Catherine is both a heroine and a villain. Or that the movie is both very bad and very good.